Book Review| The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris


Kristina McMorris has had a large part of my heart ever since I read Letters from Home. Being a military wife, stories about military couples (and WWII in general) just get me. I end up putting myself and my husband in the stories, replacing the main characters. (I also recently took an online test that said I was over-emotional, so I’m sure that doesn’t help either). Her stories are so emotionally devastating, sometimes in a good way, and I end up feeling so content with the way each story ends.

The Snyopsis from Goodreads:

Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes’s grief over her husband’s untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying—but it’s just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.

As Jack’s fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack’s dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound—and perhaps, at last, to heal. 


I honestly was not sure what to expect with this one. Though it centers itself around WWII, the modern story line threw me a bit. I wasn’t sure how the two stories were going to come together in a way that wasn’t corny or ridiculous, but I was surprised in how content the ending was for me. It’s very possible that the end was a little corny, and I may be biased in my absolute love of McMorris’ work. Even if you didn’t or don’t like the modern story line, you simply can’t resist loving her WWII story line. Vivian and Isaak and Gene, I just couldn’t resist loving them! I’ve seen people talk about Vivian like she’s some weepy, wispy woman who needs a man in her life, but I don’t think those people read the book. Spoilers! When we first meet Vivian, she’s already dating Isaak. Once they’re separated and she decides to move on, she does not immediately go looking for a man. She goes looking for fun. Just because she happens to find somebody doesn’t mean she needs them. When I met my husband, I had just stopped seeing somebody. My husband was a rebound (don’t worry, he knows this!), and I had no intention of ever marrying somebody from my home town. But the more time we talked, the more we spent time together, the closer we became. I was in no way looking for the person I would marry, but we found each other. Maybe that’s why I could relate to Vivian; she fell in love with somebody she wasn’t expecting to.

This book literally brought tears to my eyes. There were two scenes that really just broke me down, but the one that really got me (and made me say, “Oh no,” out loud) was Vivian and Gene’s death. For some reason, when Vivian is thinking about Judith and how she’ll always be loved, and when she hears the I’ve got you while holding Gene’s hand, I just felt my heart drop. When that time comes, I can only hope to be surrounded by people I love, looking back on my life and the people in it. 

Rating: 5/5

If you have a soft spot for WWII-era novels, then I strongly urge you to pick up any McMorris book.


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